What Is Boswellia?


Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), also known as Indian frankincense, belongs to a family of resinous trees renowned for their aromatic oil. Boswellia trees are native to North Africa and the Middle East, but the particular species Boswellia serrata grows in the dry, mountainous forests of western and central India. 

Boswellia trees have a thick, papery bark that yields a gum containing natural sugars, essential oils, and several triterpene acids known as boswellic acids. These acids are the source of boswellia’s medicinal properties.

Potential Healing Benefits of Boswellia

Traditionally, bowellia was used to treat inflammation. Recent studies have confirmed the efficacy of using it to treat inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and ulcerative colitis.

In fact, boswellia appears to be safer than other standard treatments for osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions, which have greater potential risk for side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding.

Boswellia and the Doshas  

In terms of the doshas, boswellia carries the astringent, bitter, and sweet tastes. It pacifies Pitta most, and also can reduce Kapha dosha. In high doses, boswellia may mildly aggravate Vata.

How to Use Boswellia 

Boswellia can be purchased from herbal companies or health food stores. The standard dose for adults contains between 37.5 and 65 percent boswellic acids, yielding 150 to 200 milligrams per capsule or tablet. Most studies of boswellia have tested daily doses between 450 milligrams (150 milligrams, three times a day) and 1,200 milligrams (400 milligrams, three times a day). It’s suitable for children at half the adult dosage. 

As a poultice: A poultice is a soft, moist mass of material that can be spread over the skin. You can make a boswellia poultice by grinding up a tablet until it becomes a powder, and then add water to make a paste. Use it several times a day to soothe sore muscles and aching joints. 

As a mouthwash: Mix a few drops of boswellia oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 4 drops of peppermint essential oil into 1 cup of distilled water to make a mouthwash to treat bad breath caused by gum disease or other oral health issues. 

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.


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This article was written as a combined effort of the editors for Chopra.com and the Chopra Centered Lifestyle community. The editors take advantage of the wisdom and knowledge at the Chopra Center through access to Master Educators, Program Developers, and Speakers, and bring you the healing wisdom in a simple, online format. Want to submit content for the editors to consider? Visit our content submission guidelines .Read more